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Kris Bryant’s Heavy Legs, Heavier Burden

Chicago Cubs

When Kris Bryant was pulled last night, it was of course fair game to wonder about a trade – ’tis the season, and he’s heavy in the rumors – and naturally folks did. The HUG WATCH was on, and even David Ross later joked that he wished he could’ve gotten in touch with the Cubs’ media relations director to tell him not to say anything so that people would keep freaking out. “The Rosenthals, the Heymans, all those guys,” Ross said with a devilish grin in his post-gamer, “I love that they had to waste some time and make some phone calls.”

The far more plausible explanation was an injury issue, of course. All that we were left to hope about was that it wasn’t a serious injury issue, and when the word on the injury did not come down for a surprisingly long time, I had my suspicions: the Cubs were probably being very careful on how they were going to phrase it. Because of the other thing. You understand.

But I can’t say I expected to see “right hamstring fatigue” as the designation. I’ve been doing this a long time, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a team pull a guy with hamstring “fatigue.” That is a carefully chosen word right there. It’s not a strain! It’s not tightness! It’s not even a cramp! It’s just a hamstring that needs a nap, folks. Maybe a piña colada and a miniature umbrella. Nothing to see here.

I joke, but I’m not really taking a shot at the Cubs. The front office, the coaching staff, and the training staff all know the reality of the situation. There is a chance Bryant will be traded in the week ahead, and no one can take any unnecessary risks. If Bryant feels the teeniest, tiniest bit off – or even just looks it for a split second – they’re gonna pull him. I wonder what Bryant thinks about it, but I suppose he, too, is an adult and knows the score.

As hoped – and frankly expected after the “fatigue” designation – the description of pulling Bryant was all about precaution, no-big-deal, etc.:

Just heavy legs for a guy who didn’t get a full All-Star break. Already prepared to pull guys. No sense pushing. Felt great after the game. Was totally gonna get a night off on Wednesday anyway.

All possibly/probably true! But also a very convenient situation given everything we know. If you needed any more confirmation that, yes, the Cubs are very seriously entertaining Kris Bryant trade talks, this was it.

Now the questions will be: does Bryant return to the lineup on Thursday? And if so, are interested teams satisfied that, yes, the Cubs were just being over-the-top cautious given the impending Trade Deadline? They’ll get all the medical reports and all that, but I tend to think if I’m being asked to part with a serious prospect package, I want to see Bryant back out on the field for multiple games, looking care-free and running like a gazelle.

Again, I can’t help but wonder how Bryant, who has been the subject of trade rumors for years, but never during the season, is going to deal with the next six, seven, eight days. I mean, what if you can tell your organization is pulling you from games with over-the-top caution? He’s not an idiot. And, like I said, he’s an adult who knows the situation. But how do you actually DEAL with it on a day-to-day basis? It has to be distracting and vexing as hell. I just hope he didn’t see those “as good as gone” headlines, and I also hope the front office has been transparent with him. It’s a lot to ask of a guy.

Anyway, as for the hamstring, we’ll see. It’s conceivable it’s more of an issue than the Cubs are letting on, but the proof there will be in the pudding. If Bryant plays by Thursday, it was indeed just caution and heavy legs. If he gets an “extra rest day,” well, then it’s either a more serious hamstring issue that the Cubs are desperately hoping can sort itself out over just a few days … or they’re actively engaged in trade talks to the point where they will no longer take any risk whatsoever.

In the meantime, I’ll imagine Kris Bryant’s right hamstring, sunglasses on and poolside with its own even smaller hamstrings up on a tiny deck chair, relaxing away the fatigue.



Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.